Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Belief an intellectual black hole.

Ah, but this is beyond the ability of science and reason to decide.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy". When you hear that, alarm bells should go off.” Shakespeare's Hamlet
There probably are questions that science cannot answer. But what some people do to protect their beliefs is to draw a veil across reality and say, you scientists can go up to the veil and apply your empirical methods this far, but no further. Behind the veil they will put angels, aliens, psychic powers, God, ghosts and so on. Then they insist that there are special people who can see - if only dimly - through this veil. But the fact is that many of the claims made about things behind this veil have empirically observable consequences and that makes them scientifically testable.
Intellectual black holes are belief systems that draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves of claptrap. Belief in homeopathy, psychic powers, Tarot cards, and alien abductions - these are examples of intellectual black holes. As you approach them, you need to be on your guard because if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again. Not being able to prove the existence of something does not disprove its existence. Much is yet to be discovered. This is just a smokescreen. But because the mantra it's-beyond-the-ability-of-science-to-establish... gets repeated so often, it is effective at lulling people back to sleep - even if they have been stung into entertaining a doubt for a moment or two…! Lots of dodgy belief systems exploit this myth. Given enough shoehorning and reinterpretation, you can make whatever turns up "fit" what the Bible, Koran and Geeta says.

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